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How to paint mdf?

(14 Posts)
RoastieToastieReastie Thu 21-Apr-16 14:47:04

Any advice for a complete novice? I e just had some built in units made in an alcove and they look great but need painting. I'm thinking of doing white/cream around the edges and then a darker colour for the back of the shelves and white shelves, or maybe ulticoloured shelves.

I've bought a wood primer and was going to do a couple of coats of that then a once cost of satinwood but looking online there are so many ways people seem to paint mdf from acrylic primer to using emulsion paint to sealing it. I have no idea what most of this means but I want to get a decent finish and get this right if anyone has any advice.


JocastaFarquhar Thu 21-Apr-16 23:05:12

Just undercoat it and paint it using the paint of your choice. It may need a light sand first. I glossed all my mdf skirting boards and they came out fine. No need for fancy stuff.

elephantoverthehill Thu 21-Apr-16 23:09:06

The edges, if they have been cut will need sealing before painting.

KindDogsTail Thu 21-Apr-16 23:11:58

These tips make sense to me. Get a really good oil based primer.

Then you could use undercoat followed by oil eggshell. Use very fine sand paper and dust thoroughly between the coats of paint. You should get a beautiful finish this way.

RoastieToastieReastie Fri 22-Apr-16 07:29:07

Thanks for the help.

I admit I'm still a bit confused by the link blush . I've checked my primer/undercoat and I have no idea if it is oil based or not. I'm attaching a photo if anyone can help me?

How would I seal edges? Use the drywall compound?

Also, once I've primed, can I use just regular emulsion? I think according to the link I can but I'm not sure confused.

I assume normal wood paint would be oil based?

KindDogsTail Fri 22-Apr-16 22:36:21

Hello,Roastie I just looked and no it's not as it is called Quick Dry. That sort is very convenient because it dries in such a short time, but in my experience does not always wear well.

It is harder to get oil based primers, also called solvent based, because of the government trying to cut down on solvents but you can definitely get them in a good shop.

What is your MDF for? For example for the kitchen?

I am fussy about paint finishes, this route we are talking about here is the craftsman one (though it is not my job as such just something I have got into from time to time).

Here is a company with good paints, on their primer/undercoat page. You could also telephone or email to see if they say confirm what I say. They will have technicians you could talk too..

I am sure you could get oil primer somewhere like B&Q though too.

unlucky83 Fri 22-Apr-16 22:52:34

Best way of knowing if it is oil based is looking for the instructions of how to clean your brushes
Oil based means you have to clean your brushes etc with white spirit. Lots of paints now are water based you clean your brushes in water.
Oil based are usually labelled high VOC (orangey red symbol on tin somewhere) and they stink -you will have to ventilate the room, give better coverage but take longer to dry ...but agree they are better paints and tend not to yellow as badly as the new water based gloss/satinwoods etc.
I'd go for a decent make preferably 'trade' (Johnsons, Leyland - even Dulux/Crown)
(They might have changed it now cos it is a few years since I used it but I had a terrible experience with B&Q one coat (oil based). I was struggling with water based not covering well and so picked that up - it took literally days to dry and it stank for weeks and weeks. I couldn't actually use it for what I bought it for - a room with lots of wood panelling and only a small window -I would have passed out from the fumes - as it was I used it for some shelving and ended up taking them down and putting them out in the shed for a few weeks until they stopped smelling so strongly...)

KindDogsTail Fri 22-Apr-16 23:06:19

OIl based does have solvents, so there are a lot of fumes. You need to be careful with adequate ventilation and keep pets and children away. You could probably get a solvent mask, but I never have in the past.

Quite dry is never oil based in my experience, but you you could check in the way Unlucky says.

That B&Q one coat sounds awful. Was that primer? I did not think primer was called that.

Cleaning brushes is a nuisance because it is so smelly. If you know you will be using the brush with the same paint, cover it tightly with cling film until you are ready to start the painting again (but don;t leave it in a warm place or it can dry even under the film. Or, with oil paint you can also stick it in a jar of water, then shake the water off.

KindDogsTail Fri 22-Apr-16 23:07:00

-Quite- Quick Dry

unlucky83 Fri 22-Apr-16 23:26:01

No it wasn't a primer it was a top coat (although I think it was supposed to be an all in one)
I was painting over varnished wood so thought I didn't need a primer - just sanded it and by then I'd given it three coats of water based anyway...the 'one coat' supposedly meant it needed just one coat (so I thought it would be good coverage) - as it was I couldn't use it for that anyway ....
I did another water based coat and left it looking a bit streaky -because actually it looked ok like that -like a white washed effect- and I decided it looked better like that - completely white would have been too much...

RoastieToastieReastie Sat 23-Apr-16 06:15:15

Thanks kind dogs for the link, I love little Greene paint! Unlucky also very useful points. It's for a unit in the playroom, a shelving unit and a huge built in cupboard.

Ok, so someone at work has given me 'mdf sealer'. I have no idea what it is but it looks like grey water. I've put it all over the shelf unit and the cupboard and then nearly ran out so just around the sides of the shelves themselves. I've also got some fancy delux diamond undercoat. So I'm thinking use one coat of the quick dry stuff (mainly as it says it's a primer and undercoat and the fancy ine which should wear better is just undercoat) then ine coat of th undercoat then go for the paint. I've also got mini roller thingy.

Just about to start primer/undercoat soon, wish me luck!

KindDogsTail Sat 23-Apr-16 09:30:10

Good luck. I am sure it will work out.

RoastieToastieReastie Sat 23-Apr-16 20:45:06

So far so good. Under coats done and onwards with proper paint tomorrow. I did one layer of the water based undercoat /primer (the quick dry stuff) and a second coat with a trade oil based primer. There was no comparison between the two, the latter had the most amazing coverage and such a difference in consistency etc. Definitely worthwhile using and in future I'll put up with longer drying time and not washing off brushes etc easily as I can see how it does a better job and why a lot of the skirting boards I've painted in the past few years are chipping so quickly.

KindDogsTail Sat 23-Apr-16 23:46:41

Well done, it sounds as though you have done a lot!

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